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One of the first lessons I learned in studying soc 104 is that a macro sociological approach looks at large-scale social processes, while a micro sociological approach looks at small-scale interactions within society. This peaked my interest and as I developed my knowledge on the topic, I developed a deeper understanding on the relationship between macrosociology and microsociology.
Macrosociology allows observation of large-scale patterns and trends, but it runs the risk of seeing these trends as abstract concepts that exist outside of the individuals who enact them on a micro level.
Microsociology observes the nature of everyday human social interactions and agency on a small scale, but it can fail to consider the larger forces that influence individual behaviour. These interactions between macro and micro made me understand that they can overlap, how the interactions on a micro level impact the macro level, an example of this is the impact of many people’s decisions not to exercise and maintain a healthy diet contributes to obesity rates, which impact the cost of providing health care.
Important concepts to know to understand macro and micro approaches are social agency, which is an individual’s ability to choose and social structure, which is the social factors that influence that decision. Social imagination plays a major role in the amount of social agency an individual possesses. C. Wright Mills defined it as the vivid awareness of the relationship between personal experience and wider society, used as a way of thinking and asking questions. He also believed that sociological imagination could link personal troubles and public issues. This belief, I view as the reason why sociological imagination is so important for an individual to have. To me, this importance is increased when you consider, how having a sociological imagination allows someone to view life outside of the societal bubble they where born into, which dictate what privileges/opportunities one has been given to by outside social forces. The lack of awareness of these forces is what Mills refers to as ‘the trap’, where, what one can only see and understand is limited to their day to day life and personal experiences that are directly related to them. That is also why I believe that sociological imagination impacts other sociological theories.
Like, Karl Marx’s conflict theory, which declared conflict as a fundamental aspect of society, as society is a competition for limited resources and emphasised that societies are divided based on interests, strengths and power. So, people are divided according to their class and level of power they hold between class groups. Max Webber agreed with Marx, but added another layer, which is that different groups were affected differently based on education, race, and gender. The two theorists differ in their view of social change, where Marx, believes society changes through conflict, Webber, believes that it changes due to the power of ideas, which shape and change society. This to me demonstrates how sociological imagination can lead to different views about the structure and function of society.
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